Chapter 2: Back to School Blues
Todd was sitting on my bed trying not to look annoyed. "Ginny come on!" he exclaimed as I reached for the dresser drawer again. I had changed my shirt three times and it was clearly grating on him.
I closed the drawer with a sigh and tried to convince myself that he was right to be annoyed with me. Without turning to him, I spoke, "What if he doesn't come back Todd?"
"Then he doesn't come back Ginny. We've been over this already." Todd said trying to sound tender.
I turned and walked toward him. "I know and I'm sorry - I'm just...." I sighed again. "I'm crazy aren't I?"
"Crazy? No...a little unstable? Maybe." Todd said with a smile. I laughed and flopped on the bed next to him.
"How did things get so complicated Todd?" I asked looking at him.
He laid back on the bed next to me and grinned a boyish grin. "Something about being a teenager." he said. "At least yours might come back." he said, his smile fading. I grabbed his hand and squeezed it.
He returned to squeeze and then sat up quickly and pulled me to my feet. "Come on, if we don't leave now we'll have to take the bus."
Our path to the school took us right by the graveyard. Todd noticed my feet falter as we approached it but didn't say anything.
He put his arm around my shoulders and I instinctively leaned into him as we walked. There was a time when passing the graveyard didn't bother me or make me falter, in fact most of the time I was perfectly fine but my thoughts were troubled lately by things other than Erik. I'd seen the date on the school calendar as I looked it over and since then I couldn't stop thinking about that night. I shuddered and tried to push her tortured face from my head. Not today....
When we got to school, I found myself looking for him. Our school wasn't huge but it wasn't small either. I'm sure there was a perfectly reasonable explanation for why I didn't see him. Right....
Todd and I found our new lockers and were soon joined by Veronica. She was the queen of the rumor mill so I turned to her in order to question her. If anyone knew anything, she would know. Before I could say anything she held out her hands to stop me. "Before you ask, I haven't heard anything." she said. I frowned.
"Nothing?!" I asked frustrated.
She just shook her head and shrugged. "The only talk about Erik is about you two breaking up." she said. As we were talking, Timothy joined us. I noticed Veronica looking his way, looking surprised. I glanced over and grinned - he hadn't cut his hair.
I took a moment to look him over as Veronica filled me in on the summer gossip. He was more tan, had new glasses in addition to the new hair. He was looking good after a summer of manual labor in in the Egyptian sun. I caught Veronica looking over at him several times during her gossiping. Her surprised melted into general approval of his new appearance. Finally she finished her recap of all the gossip she'd gathered since returning from California and turned to Timothy.
"I love the hair Timothy!" she said with a flirty smile. Todd and I share a look and tried not to laugh. "And this tan....suits you." she added.
The warning bell rang through the school, sending all the lingering students running to their first period classes. I didn't have any classes before lunch with my friends and I didn't see or hear anything about Erik except gossip about our mid-flight break up. I caught a few people looking my way and then turning to snicker when they saw me watching them.
My first class after lunch was science, which I shared with Veronica and Timothy. When I saw them already in the room, I grinned. Finally! A class with friends! I took a seat next to Veronica and looked over at her but didn't say anything. She knew what I wanted to know.
"Mary, who is an office aide this year, told me he transferred." she said sadly. "I don't know how true it is...but that's what she said..." she was cut off and as Coach Williams - the baseball coach and science teacher - came in the room.
The rest of class and my next class were a blur. I saw nothing of Erik so I could only assume Veronica's report was true. I was sad, then angry, then annoyed - I knew I shouldn't be angry, I'd told him to go. I knew there was a chance he wouldn't come back. And yet - there it was, anger. It was mostly the lack of communication from him that upset me I think.
"Gah!" I exclaimed to my friends outside our last class of the day. Veronica, Todd and I were all in Life Studies together 6th period and were loitering in the hall together before going in. I saw Veronica roll her eyes and I saw Todd holding back something; although whether it was a laugh or a yell of frustration - I'm not sure.
Todd saw him first but I was already rambling about something so he didn't interrupt me. Then Veronica caught sight of him as he got closer and approached the door. "Um Gin..." she said softly and pointed.
I turned around and locked eyes with him. He wasn't smiling. He didn't look angry but he didn't look happy either. He paused only briefly and then walked by us, looking past me to Todd and Veronica. "Reports of my transfer are greatly exaggerated." he said and then walked into the classroom....the same classroom Veronica, Todd and I were headed for.
The four of us had signed up for Life Studies at the end of the year last year when it was still taught by Mr. Franklin. Mr. Franklin was about 90 years old and had a tendency to ramble more about his own life than the coursework. As a result it was supposed to be a pretty easy class. Sadly, Mr. Franklin had passed away over the summer and now the class was being taught by Ms. Moore....as if I hadn't seen enough of her last year. Todd, Veronica and I followed Erik into the classroom and found the few remaining seats. I ended up next to Erik and felt an odd sense of deja vu - we were in the same seats as we sat in last year when we had first period together.
He didn't look my way the entire class period and left when it was over without saying anything. I watched him leave the classroom with a frown. "Oh Erik..." I said softly to myself as I gathered my stuff up.